Cleaning & Organizing
8 Things You Should Never Put in the Dishwasher
Sorry—some things you just gotta wash by hand.
When you shouldn’t use your dishwasher
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Ahh, the dishwasher—your kitchen’s most trusted and well-used companion. Perhaps one of the best parts of enjoying a delicious meal at home is knowing that you don’t have to stand there washing each dish, bowl, cup, and mug by hand—your dishwasher will handle that pesky task for you. But not all cutlery and kitchenware is dishwasher friendly. Not all items made for the kitchen can withstand that high temperatures dishwashers have to reach to kill germs and clean effectively. And some are too valuable to risk being tossed around in a gymnasium of other products. To help streamline your clean-up routine and ensure you don’t break Aunt Helen’s treasured casserole dish, here are eight items you should never put in the dishwasher. (And on the flip side, here are surprising things you didn’t know you could put in the dishwasher.)
Aunt Barbara’s treasured casserole dish…
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…Or any family heirloom of sorts. If there’s a bowl, vase, or any dish that you love and have had for years, don’t even think about tossing it in the dishwasher. Sure, it might survive a run this time (or several times), but you’ll sorely regret the one time it clinks with a non-important item in there and breaks in pieces. “The dishwasher is not the place to risk it breaking, chipping, or exploding,” says Chantay Bridges, coach, speaker, writer and realtor at Truline Realty. Sorry, but the votes are in on this one—time to get out those rubber gloves and scrub. And the same goes for gold—it’s beautiful, but not meant for the dishwasher. “Any dishware with gold rims and delicate patterns, like the fancy china you got for your wedding is a definite dishwasher don’t,” Bridges says. “That’s why you should always wash your gold plates, silverware, and china by hand to preserve their shine and glitter.”
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Sure, they’re great for taking lunches to work or snacks on the go, but when it comes to slipping them into your dishwasher, beware. If an item is not clearly labeled as “dishwasher friendly” by the manufacturer (you can always check online if you’ve already thrown out the box it came in), this means it’s not safe. “The heat from the water or during the drying period can melt or change the chemical composition of the container, making it unsafe to place food in and reuse,” says Bridges. “Try not to reuse any take-out containers and only purchase tupperware that is labeled ‘dishwasher friendly.’” Did you know you’ve been using these food containers all wrong?
Wooden utensils and cutting boards
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Due to the high-heat temperatures of your dishwasher when it’s running, wood is also at risk of altering its consistency. Assuming you’re not a fan of splinters, it’s best to wash by hand. “The hot water can dissolve or alter wooden-made stuff,” says Hristo Rosenov, owner of Exclusive Repairs, an appliance-repair company in London. “In order to maintain them properly, wet a nylon scrubbing pad in a bow of warm soapy water and wash them with it. Then rinse the utensils under warm water again.” And a secret hack to keep them looking like new is to oil them once a month. Here’s the best way to clean a smelly wooden spoon.
Crystal glass and dishware
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You might be scared to clean your precious crystal glasses by hand, but the dishwasher could do even more damage—seriously. “Over time the high temperature in the dishwashing machine, its cleaning cycle and the close proximity to other items might cause your crystal to crack, chip, or take away the shine,” says Rosenov. “To clean your crystal properly, warm up two cups of vinegar and pour it into a larger container. Place glasses or bowls into the vinegar and soak for three to five minutes. Then rinse with clear water and dry with a lint-free towel for a perfect shine. (Don’t miss these things you shouldn’t put in your washing machine, either.)
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We have to admit that it kind of makes sense—dishwashing liquid’s for washing dishes after all, right? Yes—but NEVER in the dishwasher—unless you want your lovely home to become a giant bubble bath in a matter of minutes. For those dishes and kitchenware items you have to wash by hand, go ahead and use all the dishwashing liquid you want. Your dishwasher, however, requires a different type of dishwashing solution that is clearly labeled “dishwasher detergent.” These are mistakes you make when you load the dishwasher.
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The whole reason you probably bought copper pans is because of their Feng-Shui look, which you obviously don’t want to alter. (We also recommend using copper pans for their superior cooking quality.) Tossing those puppies in the dishwasher, however, will change their color to something a little, shall we say, rustier? This also includes those Moscow Mule mugs you love so much. Even if you use them on the daily, wash them by hand if you want them to stay shiny.
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Don’t be surprised if you place this little trinket in the dishwasher and it looks almost untouched by the time you take it out. “The dishwasher doesn’t have the capability to pick up all of the cheese curdles hidden deep inside,” says Bridges. “You’re better off taking care of this on your own.”
Fancy chef-quality knives
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They do all the dirty work when it comes to slicing your food—naturally, you don’t feel like hand washing them. But while you might not want to get nicked by them mid-scrub, your dishwasher won’t do them any good either. “Although some dishwashing machines have a special knife rack, the dishwasher cycles and the abrasive detergents will still dull the sharp blades,” says Bridges. “You’re better off hand-washing and drying them carefully with a towel instead letting them air dry.” These secrets about using kitchen knives might surprise you.
Your pet’s bowl or feeder
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You might consider Fido family, but his germs do not mix well with yours or your little ones. That urban legend you heard about how a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s? Not totally true. “Think about where your dog or cat’s mouth has been—it most likely contains bacteria that could make you and your family ill,” says Bridges. “Instead, wash his belongings by hand and let it air dry.” Your pet’s kibble dish is definitely dirtier than a toilet seat.